March is the season of green in Sonoma County, and that means flowers, too

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I t’s that time of the year on the North Coast when the normally russet hills take on the tinge of Ireland. March is the season of green in Sonoma County. But it’s not only grass and budding leaves on trees that wear the colors of the Emerald Isle in the waning days of winter.

There are also flowers that come in a surprising cascade of green shades, from soft pastels to bright chartreuse. And no, we’re not talking about the green carnations that show up in the supermarket this time of year and look like they’ve been fed a steady diet of limeade. Rather, these are flowers that grow green in nature. Some, like hellebores, bloom in winter.

But it’s possible to green up your garden year-round with a multitude of soft, beguiling green blooms.

“I like the freshness of them,” said Fionuala Campion, the Irish-born co-owner of Cottage Gardens of Petaluma (which just happens to be situated on Emerald Drive.) “Green flowers lighten your mind up again to the idea of gardening. They’re a fresh and spring-like color.”

For the past few years green flowers paired with white, or green and blush, have been popular combinations for weddings, said Bonnie Z, who owns Dragonfly Floral in Healdsburg. “We do tend to use a lot of green and white together. It’s just a classic look.”

Campion said incorporating green flowers into arrangements has another advantage — it makes the other colors really pop.

Imagine a flower and your mind probably goes to the pretty pastels of spring or the hot vibrant colors of summer and fall. But the quieter beauty of green blooms can also be a lovely note in the garden or an arrangement.

“I think when we sell green flowers people are always surprised to see them. They kind of sell themselves,” said Hedda Brorstrom, owner of Full Bloom Flower Farm and Floral Design in Graton.

Perhaps any discussion of green flowers on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day should begin with bells of Ireland. Growing up to four feet tall, it makes a good background plant, and produces tiny flowers hidden within shell-shaped calyxes.

“They have this interesting and very faint fragrance that’s almost rose-like,” said Bonnie Z.

Brorstrom said they do best if you freeze the seeds for a week or so. Start the seeds now and plant in early spring for a May or June bloom.

“They reseed themselves. So once you have them in the garden you always have them in the garden,” she added.

Campion said for the garden she loves Euphorbia, which blooms a bright chartreuse green. Another favorite is the Vibernum Eastern Snowball. While the actual flower in bloom is white, if you pick it before it is fully open it is a pretty pastel green.

“I use them more when they’re green than when they’re white,” she said. “It is this beautiful clean springtime green. It sets off daffodils really nicely.”

For green flowers in the late summer or fall to cool down the garden consider Verbena Lanai “Lime Green.” Campion said it is a knockout when planted as a groundcover around purple blooming flowers.

Nicotiana, or flowering tobacco, also comes in a “lime green” variety that produces a vibrant shade of green for the summer garden.

“It’s very fairy-like,” said Brorstrom, who just started hers in the greenhouse in early February. “It just dances around in the vase.” It makes a nice accent flower in arrangements.

For something fun consider a variety of Sweet William called Dianthus barbatus “green trick” or green ball Dianthus. It produces electric green fuzz balls that make a nice and long-lasting cut flower. They bloom prolifically in late spring and summer.

“You just keep cutting it and it responds,” Bonnie Z said.

There are a number of hellebores — blooming now — that produce green flowers. Consider the pale green argutifolias or the darker green Helleborus veridis.

And for the rose lover, there is even a green bloom for you. The grasshopper rose almost looks like small cabbages, with greenish yellow blooms and a reddish center.

You can reach Staff Writer Meg McConahey at or 707-521-5204.

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